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Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Eva Arissani

Eva Arissani - Director: Transcentral (Pty)Ltd

Eva Arissani XWOMOriginally from Libreville (Gabon), I had the fantastic opportunity to reside in many countries and got to experience different cultures. I did part of my basic education in France. At the age of 11, I flew back to Gabon where I started high school. When I got my High school diploma (Baccalauréat de l’enseignement général), I took off for South Africa where I undertook university studies. I was blessed to work as a Tutor for the Department of Modern European Languages -University of Pretoria, and thereafter as a French Assistant Lecturer. I fell in love with FLE (teaching French as a Foreign Language) and that naturally led me to teaching French as a foreign language and later on to translating and voice over. My objectives are to broaden my horizons as a linguist, transcend physical barriers and work as a translator, French voice over artist, inspirational/ motivational keynote speaker, facilitator, FLE Expert and expand as a leadership coach, a mentor and women’s and girl’s empowerment champion and as a young girl’s advocate.

I hold a Baccalaureus Artium Honores specialized in English, French, Translation and Interpretation, I am a Sworn Translator of the High Court of South Africa, an Expert in DELF/DALF (international French diplomas) and a trainer of trainers. I have facilitated many trainings at national and regional level. I attended a Course on public speaking (“Speak your way to success”), on keynote writing and motivational speaking that took place in Johannesburg in 2014 and was led by the one and only Les Brown (an American motivational speaker, author, radio DJ, former television host, and former politician). I am a Member of Golden Key International Honour Society in recognition of outstanding scholastic achievement. I started a blog and published a self-help book.

I am an Ambassador to Mireille Toulekima Global Leadership to South Africa (an organization based in Australia). I love her philosophy and I vouched to empower people and especially women and teenage girls to be the best they can be and tap into their true potential. The Mireille Toulekima Global Leadership organization was founded by the public figure and inspirational leader Mireille Toulekima. Its mission is to help people become the best that they can be, come out of the masses and stand in their own shining light. The Mireille Toulekima Global Leadership organization promotes authentic leadership across the world following the D.A.R.E (Decide Act Review Extend) Leadership System created by Mireille Toulekima. I see myself as a ‘multidimensional’ woman as I strive to pursue a professional career as a linguist expert but also as a leadership coach, a mentor, an inspirational / motivational speaker and as an advocate to empower people but most specifically young girls.

I am happily married and mom to 3 daughters.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Sibabalwe Sesmani

Sibabalwe Sesmani - Founder & Managing Director: Unorthodox PR and Media Group (Pty)Ltd

Sibabalwe SesmaneI am a 26 year old Xhosa female entrepreneur born and bred in East London, Eastern Cape. I attended the University of Johannesburg and completed my bachelor in Commerce in Economics and Econometrics. My working life started while still in university in my final year in September 2013, working as a marketer for Phillip Morris South Africa. The marketing bug since bit me as my following jobs were in a marketing role. In October 2014, I informally started my company and named it Unorthodox PR and Media Group, which wasn't registered till the following year in April. Before starting the company I had an urge to do more & be more and I was fortunate enough to secure my first client before my company was formally registered at CIPC. Since then we’ve won international awards for our clients, gone up against a listed company and we have been nominated for the continental Africa Youth Awards in 2017.

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.

I have always been entrepreneurial since I was very young. I remember when I was 11 years old and I wanted to have a cellphone. My parents didn't understand who I would be chatting to so I made a deal with them. Should I be able to raise half of the amount of the mobile phone, they would then be obligated to give me the other half and purchase my cellphone. A few months passed of selling popcorn and junk food that my peers adored so much and I met my target. I then presented R10 notes and many coins to my parents and soon enough I had my Motorola T190 mobile. I love telling this story because it's an indication of the qualities I've always possessed which are resilience, goal orientated, great problem solving skills, negotiation skills and my people skills. Going on this journey has possibly been the hardest 4 years of my life as I've sacrificed, watching my peers ‘seemingly’ surpassed me when it comes to attaining material possession and having to grow up very quickly to now being able to relate to older generations. On the way I've encountered an excessive amount of misogyny and a realization and awareness of how hard it is to be young, black and female in business. With the hardships and obstacles I've also built an immense amount of confidence, a no nonsense taking attitude, an assertive, aggressive nature and I do not take no for an answer. By losing friends and so called ‘supportive family’ one truly realizes how strong and capable one is, and I can safely say that not much scares me or gets me down.

Please tell us a little more about your CSI Initiative.

The Women’s Youthpreneur Academy which is now called the ‘Unorthodox Black Women’s Youth Network (UBWYN) was born out of my frustration of how young black women had to face almost impossible obstacles just to even gain a client. Women are scared, doubtful and undervalue themselves when we have so much to offer and bring to the table. This initiative started in 2015 with small gatherings to discuss issues. The gatherings were not always consistent as it seemed to me that women spoke a lot, but there was no action. The name change to UBWYN was inspired by wanting to create an economy amongst women. When it comes to big projects often women are told to exchange sexual favors for clients and even potential meetings which lead to nowhere which is absolutely ridiculous! It then dawned on me that there are more women than men and Africa is a fairly young continent in terms of inhabitants, so why not have our own economy, work with each other and use our collective voices to be the change that we want. I'm not a mother yet, but I have a 9 year old niece that I adore so much and I want to instill in her what I now know and I want her to be unapologetically aggressive by getting what she wants.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Jayshree Naidoo

Jayshree Naidoo - CEO: YIEDI

Picture Credit: Kehshan Naidoo – Shutter Square PhotographyJayshree Naidoo is the CEO of YIEDI, (Youth Innovation Entrepreneurship Design Institute) a company that focuses on Innovation and Strategy Consulting, Incubation Design and Management, Entrepreneurship and Supplier Development and Digital and eLearning Solutions. She has developed several frameworks and models for Innovation and Incubation and has created several structured acceleration programmes for Start-ups and Growth Entrepreneurs as well as Leadership Programmes for Corporates.

She was previously the head and the founder of the Standard Bank Incubator and has held several leadership roles in SA that include positions at The Development Bank of Southern Africa, Discovery, ABSA and Internet Solutions. She was previously the CEO of Feenix, a crowd funding platform for students launched by the bank, a board member of JASA (Junior Achievement South Africa), as well as the Chairperson of SAINe (The Southern African Innovation Network) and held a seat on NACI (The National Advisory Council on Innovation).

She was identified as one of the Top 25 Global FinTech Influencers. She has local and international experience in the fields of strategy, consulting, innovation, entrepreneurship and e-commerce. Her qualifications include an MBA, CAIB (SA), Honors in E-Commerce and IT.

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.

I am 45 years old and I have worked in corporate South Africa for over 25 years. I have been married to the same amazing man for 26 years. Jay and I have two beautiful children, Alysha and Kehshan who are both creatives and entrepreneurs. I was born in Durban and grew up in an Indian township called Chatsworth. I have worked in over 8 companies, in 7 sectors and held over 13 positions. I have several qualifications and I love reading and broadening my knowledge. I love painting, writing and reading.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Aletta Rochat

Aletta Rochat - Founder: Voicing Your Potential

AlettaAletta Rochat is a professional speaker and South Africa’s first Certified World Class Speaking Coach. She teaches clients how to breathe life into their speeches and how to make their messages crystal clear. Aletta is a master storyteller who captivates her audiences as she shares practical strategies you can use right away.

Aletta is the author of 'Speak Connect Succeed – Build Your Reputation As You Speak' as well as 'The Wedding Speaker’s Guide'. She is a Distinguished Toastmaster and is the Region Advisor for Toastmasters International in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Her clients range from corporations wishing to improve their presentation skills, to CEO’s wanting to be more persuasive in their speeches.

She has coached many executives launching new products and speaking at international conventions. She has a professional background in Marketing Management.

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.

Curious by nature, I am always looking for learning opportunities. By saying 'yes' and volunteering my time and skills, I have had wonderful experiences. My passion is to help people get ahead by the way they speak and present. As a child I learned the value of speaking and connecting well through multiple local and international moves.

Please tell us how your Company came about.

My volunteer work for Toastmasters International led to people approaching me for speech coaching privately. Most of my clients come to me by word-of-mouth. My client base, both individual and corporate, has grown steadily.

Please tell us a little more about your books, Speak Connect Succeed – How to Build Your Reputation As You Speak & The Wedding Speaker’s Guide.

'Speak Connect Succeed - Build Your Reputation As You Speak' came about as I found myself giving the same advice again and again. By publishing a book, this advice is now available to many more people. It is a practical book full of easy-to-use speaking strategies that positively impact your reputation right away.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Carol Matthyse

Carol Matthyse - Love Knows No Bounds & Agape Haven Restoration Centre

Carol MatthyseI am a 49year old house executive, wife and mom of 2 sons. I am a citizen of Cape Town, SA. I am the author of "The Preparation for my Destination" I have a passion working with women, bringing restoration to spirit, soul and body of precious women.

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.

In 2002 I started working with women in our surrounding communities. Having women camps and my focus was esspecially on women living in disadvantage communities, who cannot afford to go for counceling, who cannot afford to go and sit in a coffee shop with another girl friend. I have a great passion working with women. Seeing them restored to their original design and to walk in their GOD ordained purpose for their lives. As a woman who travelled through lives very painful journeys myself, I would like to see women being lifted out of their valleys of despair, depression, abuse, hurt, rejection ect... and learning them to know their self worth as a beautiful, WOW - Woman Of Worth. I believe when women knows their self worth, they will not tolerate in being a victim of this evil cycle of women abuse. I am a voice to those precious gems (women) that cannot speak up for themselves and that is crying out in silence for help.

In 2009 I started travelling to the continent of Africa on GOD's instruction, doing women conferences, training and equipping leaders, doing outreaches to orphanages, prisons, hospitals, schools, feeding the poor and GOD rescuing a tribe (IDP's) in Kenya who was almost dying due to starvation through my obedience and passionate love for people. My mission outreaches was to Kenya(7times), Nigeria, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Egypt, Israel. From 2013 onwards I started ministering(teaching) women in our Parliament of S.A. and in Tuyn Huys. In 2015 I arranged a Global Womans Prayer Day and a Spiritual March through the streets of the heart of Cape Town.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Karen Wessels

Karen Wessels - CEO & Co-Founder: SnappSales & VA Connnect

Karen Wessels XWOMKaren Wessels is the co-founder and CEO of VA Connect, Africa’s largest virtual assistant platform that provides outsourced administrative support; and is also the co-founder and CEO of SnappSales, a company that generates quality sales leads for its clients. Prior to establishing both her companies, Karen spent over 10 years in different sales, marketing & admin support roles.

This experience has equipped her with the invaluable skills required to run her multiple international business ventures successfully. To date one of her biggest achievements has been the founding of SnappSales, a highly sought-after marketing agency that focusses on finding quality sales leads for its clients.

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.

My entrepreneurial journey started fulltime in 2013. One day out of the blue I quit my day job and since that day I haven’t looked back. My journey has been peppered with wins and fails, of which I am able to draw valuable lessons from in order to pave my path to greater business success. I have met amazing people on this journey and I truly look forward to where I’m headed as I positively impact the lives of those around me.

Please tell us a little more about how your companies came about.

My business partner and I saw a gap in the market when it came to the lack of quality sales leads for startups & SMEs. Coming from a sales background there is a noticeable chasm in many entrepreneur’s business armour and that is the skill of being able to sell. SnappSales was born out of a love for sales and being able to prospect in a successful manner and close the deal.

I had the privilege of starting one of my first businesses by helping a German company with their marketing. At the time I didn’t know of the term ‘virtual assistant’ yet that is what I was offering. As the offering evolved and more & more business owners & entrepreneurs come knocking on my door, VA Connect was born.

You are busy with some very interesting initiatives. Please tell us a little more about that.

I love the world of virtual assistance and really wanted to make a difference in the VA industry in South Africa. Daily I have ladies asking me advice of how to start their own VA business. I was able to partner up with 2 well established VA’s in Cape Town and my business partner of course, and together we founded Virtual Assistants Association of South Africa. We’ve had a phenomenal first year with creating VA awareness in South Africa. The goal is to up our game as VA’s and to offer all-round professional services to businesses and business owners alike. 2018 will be a year of increased awareness, but more importantly, more work creation for all VA’s. 


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Charlotte Kemp

Charlotte Kemp - Speaker & Futures Alchemist

Charlotte FB picCharlotte Kemp is a professional speaker, author, social media trainer and futurist. Coming from an experience of losing a franchise business a few years ago, and still feeling the financial after shocks, she is well aware of the implications of getting business wrong as well as the thrill of seeing one’s own work succeed and get traction. In order to explore what went wrong in her business, Charlotte wrote and self-published a book called “I’m Not Afraid of the F Word, 50 Lessons learned on the way to business failure.” The subject of this books was the content for numerous motivational talks to business owners, networking groups and even MBA students.

While using social media to market herself, Charlotte learned how powerful these platforms can be and soon responded to clients’ requests to teach them what she had learned about social media. Thus began a long and interesting career as a social media trainer and key noter covering many aspects such as marketing and PR, sales, networking, personal branding and more. She still owns the site LinkedInCoach.co.za and does in house LinkedIn training for corporates.

But it was the discover of the range and depth of the field of strategic foresight and futures studies that has really inspired Charlotte to explore these principles more in her professional speaking career. A member of the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa (PSASA), Charlotte and her husband, Past President of PSASA, Richard Mulvey, are actively involved in the speaking community. Charlotte has also served as Secretary to the Global Speakers Federation allowing her to learn from the experience of speakers from around the globe.

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.

My real journey started when I lost a franchise business that I had bought, which was supposed to be my financial fall back plan. Rather than take care of my financial needs, I lost everything – my house, my car, my investments. While the experience was obviously horrible, it taught me so much that I would never have learned if everything just worked out okay. I am now more resilient and more curious and willing to experiment. And temporary failures don’t scare me as much as before. Now I work as a futurist, having conversations with people and leading programs to help people to explore their feelings about the future and to find ways to prepare themselves for the huge benefits, rather than be anxious about the potential problems.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Antoinette Prophy

Antoinette Prophy - Founder & Managing Director: 88 Business Collective

Antoinette Prophy XWOMAntoinette started her entrepreneurial journey in 2004 after leaving McKinsey and Company with the aim to positively influence how business is done in Africa. She started her first business, Afrofusion Advertising in her mother’s lounge with R200, a laptop and a pocket full of dreams and hopes for this beautiful continent. Over the past twelve years, she gained extensive experience in accessing new markets by taking her business to Uganda, Kenya and servicing clients in Nigeria. She is passionate about the entrepreneurial space across the continent and shares her expertise by mentoring emerging entrepreneurs. She launched the 88 Business Collective in 2016 and focuses on accelerating women owned businesses from marginalized communities utilizing her Growth Through Collaboration methodology.

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.

Antoinette started her entrepreneurial journey in 2004 after leaving McKinsey and Company with the aim to positively influence how business is done in Africa. She started her first business, Afrofusion Advertising in her mother’s lounge with R200, a laptop and a pocket full of dreams and hopes for this beautiful continent. She organically grew the agency by pulling together a dynamic team of employees, fusing expertise from management consultants, communications specialists and graphic designers.

In 2005, the Department of Communications appointed Afrofusion to develop and implement a communications strategy. The scope of the engagements was to inform key stakeholders of the importance in complying with the PFMA and the PPPA, procurement regulations from National Treasury. She worked closely with senior management such as the Chief Financial Officer and the Deputy Director General.

In 2007, she led the creative team, who implemented an award winning through-the-line campaign for Indalo Yethu, South Africa’s Environmental Campaign. She developed the strategy, which led to the successful implementation of a holistic campaign aimed at encouraging communities to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. She played an integral part in ensuring the TV, radio and print campaign was produced on time and within a tiny budget. The TV ad won a Vuka award, which led to Antoinette being featured on CNBC Africa and SAFM and this in turn gave the client more exposure.

In 2008, a team of management consultants stationed at one of the biggest hospitals in the world, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, appointed Afrofusion to develop a communications strategy that would reach every household in Soweto. She led the team with strategy formulation and implemented Project Phenduka. The project reached a large percentage of households in Soweto and Lenasia with strategic messaging. Antoinette formed a strong relationship, on behalf of the client, with Soweto TV, community radio and newspapers. She managed the below-the-line activations at taxi ranks, churches, schools and the hospital.

In 2009, she decided to acquire a larger agency to compliment our team of 15 employees. She focused her attention on the acquisition to position Afrofusion a major player in the advertising sector. Significant top-level attention was focused on the potential merger and after a period of ten months the sellers cancelled the deal. The end result was that during this time, not enough attention was devoted to ongoing marketing and promoting the business with existing and new clients, with turnover down substantially from the previous financial year with losses incurred. She led the agency back from potential liquidation by closing the Durban office and augmenting the business strategy to focus on organic growth.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Vino Govender

Vino Govender - Managing Director: LA Consulting Engineers (PTY) LTD

Vino GovenderVino Govenbder is the Managing Director of LA Consulting Engineers (Pty) Ltd which is a Consulting Practice operating in the Built Environment with its primary focus on Civil Engineering Infrastructure, Project Management, and Turnkey Solutions.

All work and no play for many years and the ability to be fearless is what has contributed to my success. The lessons learnt from life's experiences enabled me to grow as a person. It has also taught me that through hard work and dedication, I could achieve my goals without compromising on my morals and values. I am a devoted mother to my 21 year old son.

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.

I started off being employed as an administrator and was allowed to sit in on a strategy meeting. I was jokingly asked what my vision was for the future and without hesitation I stood up and said that I see myself as a Managing Director of a Company one day. Being surrounded by ALL male partnership/shareholders that were senior to me, I knew at that point where I really wanted to be, in an industry where women, particularly Indian women knew very little about. From that day on, I strived to fulfil that goal. It was just not a title nor was it just a job, I became passionate and worked long hours to fulfil that dream. Many days, I made numerous sacrifices and as a single mother of a teenage boy, that became a very difficult task. However, I worked tirelessly and overcame the many days of fatigue and disappointments to achieve that. The journey was long and sometimes I just wanted to give up hope but in my heart, I knew where I wanted to be. All these experiences had gotten me in the darkest phases of my life but I had to build up my courage and willpower to get out of it for the sake of my son whom I have also drawn strength and energy from. As a mother, I did not allow guilt to get the better of me, I worked with passion and love for what I did. I crossed many hurdles and did it with dedication and passion for my dream making me a successful business woman today.

My journey has been an amazing one filled with lessons of empowering not just myself but other women in the sector. Some of the highlights of my journey includes my community development programmes, which speaks to disadvantaged individuals that aims to transform their lives every year as well as empowering the youth and women.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Terena le Roux

Terena le Roux - Owner & Editor of Ideas Magazine

Terena le Roux Xtraordinary Woman of the MonthTerena le Roux started her career as a newspaper journalist at Beeld before becoming the first fulltime researcher for Mnet’s Carte Blanche. She then moved to magazines as fashion editor at Rooirose and, after a short stint as freelance stylist, joined Woman’s Value as fashion & beauty editor and, from 2001, as editor. 

After she launched décor magazines Tuis and Home, she was appointed Editorial Head for Creative Living Magazines (WV,dit, Tuis & Home) and then became publisher on these titles for 3 years, during which she rebranded Woman’s Value and dit to Ideas and Idees. Editorial was her passion though and in 2009 she returned to the Ed’s chair at Ideas/Idees.

When Media24 decided to close the title at the end of 2016, she took over the trademark and became owner-editor of the magazine. 

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.

I am a hard working (helpful), hard headed (not always so helpful) and extremely loyal (often overrated) journalist and single mother.

I’ve been fortunate all my life in the sense that I was often in the right place at the right time. My decision years ago to move to Cape Town as a freelance journalist and stylist was mostly because I thought it would be good for my then 6 year-old son, but it happened to be an excellent decision for me and my career. And with some nice benefits for him as well.

Cape Town was the right place for me to become editor of a main stream magazine (Woman’s Value) at a time when it spread its wings into the Afrikaans market with the launch of DIT (Die idees-tydskrif) and also later to become editorial director and publisher of Idees, Ideas, Tuis and Home and the baby titles in the group.

A combination of my intense dislike for publishing and the onset of the 2008 recession brought me back to the creative environment I love, but this time with a few bows in my arrow I did not have before. I approached my job differently and when Ideas/Idees was closed at the end of 2016, I had the experience needed to risk taking over the magazine.

And so our story as a Media24 magazine ended and our journey as entrepreneurs began. As the person at the helm of our new adventure I had to learn how to negotiate and to delegate without staff to delegate to. We needed to venture into a world without office space, without IT and without a finance department. And in between we needed to bring out a rejuvenated product that could warrant an almost 100% price increase. But it’s a journey I would not exchange for any other.

You are busy with some very interesting projects. Please tell us a little more about that.

I am currently mostly busy with getting Idees/Ideas out of the starting blocks as an independent magazine. We do however always try to stay in touch our readers’ needs; publishing is after all about your readers. So we’re working on our first special edition, a DIY wedding guide and, as a lot of our readers were also loyal readers of our sister title Leef that was closed at the same time as us, we’ll also be publishing a special edition of Leef in December.


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